Why the Denver Broncos will hire Kyle Shanahan
One man’s not so bold prediction as to why Kyle Shanahan will be the next head coach for the Denver Broncos moving forward…
At the start of 2017, less than one calendar year removed from being crowned Super Bowl 50 Champions, the Denver Broncos are in search of the their third head coach during John Elway’s front office tenure. During Gary Kubiak’s retirement press conference, Elway made it known that he is looking for a “young, talented” head coach this time around.
This is where Kyle Shanahan comes in. Let’s take a look at the reasons I believe he is the perfect fit for this Denver Broncos team:
1.) Offense, offense and more offense
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Let’s take a quick poll. Raise your hand if you felt the Broncos missed the playoffs this year because the defense wasn’t good enough…anyone?…anyone?…Bueller?…Bueller?…that’s what I thought. Next, raise your hand if you actually ENJOYED watching the Broncos on offense this year…you get the point.
Some of the biggest problems that need to be addressed this offseason lie of the offensive side of the ball. While the offensive line received a large portion of the blame (rightfully so) the play calling was absolutely, well, boring. Hand off to (insert running back here), watch him run off center for a 1 maybe 2 yard gain. Repeat. Throw the ball 3 yards off the line of scrimmage on 3rd and long, trot back to the sideline and punt.
Third down was a major problem area because of the lack of production on 1st and 2nd down. The Broncos finished 31st out of 32 teams in 3rd down conversion, ahead of only the Los Angeles Rams but worse than Jacksonville, San Francisco and Cleveland. Let that settle in for a second.
Shanahan’s Falcons finished 11th, barely behind the Dallas Cowboys and just ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers. That’s a little better company. This is a big reason why Denver’s offense averaged 20.8 pts/game, good for 22nd, and Atlanta averaged 33.8 pts/game, tops in the NFL.
2.) His work with Matt Ryan
What Shanahan did with Matt Ryan is a work of art. This season Matt Ryan was named an AP first team All-Pro, beating out Tom Brady. He finished with career bests in completion percentage (69.9%), yards (4,944), touchdown passes (38), yards per attempt (9.26) while throwing for a career low in interceptions (7). This was all done on 534 pass attempts which was his lowest in a full 16 games since his rookie year of 2008. His work here makes you feel like the progress of both Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian would be put into hyper drive and really give the Broncos an exciting situation at QB.
3.) His work with the run game
Quick comparison: Denver finished the season with 1484 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns, good for 92.8 yards per game, good for 27th in the league. Atlanta finished with 1928 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns at a clip of 120.5 yards per game, 5th in the NFL. You would think with that large of a discrepancy that Atlanta ran the ball a lot more. Nope. Denver had 410 rushing attempts, Atlanta had 421. Yes it helps having Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, but C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker are no slouches and would benefit from the type of game planning Shanahan can put together.
4.) The personal touch
John Elway and Mike Shanahan remain good friends. Insiders say that any animosity from Mike towards the Broncos is not directed towards Elway, but rather team president Joe Ellis, who fired Mike after a run of mediocre seasons. This is no small thing. This is something Denver offers that other coaching gigs simply cannot. Any successful franchise has a good working relationship between the head coach and front office.
Kyle Shanahan also graduated from Cherry Creek High School in the Denver area and spent a lot of time around the team during the late 90’s, giving him a personal tie to the team that just isn’t there in San Francisco, Jacksonville or Los Angeles.
Simply put, the defense is there. 3 first team All-Pro’s (Von Miller, Chris Harris Jr and Aqib Talib) and a solid core of other players (Derek Wolfe, TJ Ward, Shane Ray, etc.) make this an easy choice. Make no mistake, Vance Joseph is a brilliant defensive mind and a rising star. But recent rumblings say that hiring Joseph would spell the end of the Wade Phillips led defense as Joseph would bring in Joe Woods as a defensive coordinator. Elway has publicly stated he would like to keep the defensive image intact. Chances are better Phillips is kept on a little longer with Kyle Shanahan in charge.
Making Kyle Shanahan head coach could put this team over the edge and go back to looking at playoff seeding and AFC West titles. With Tom Brady closing in on 40 in New England, it feels like a new AFC powerhouse will rise up. Why not another Shanahan-led Denver Broncos?